Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is an effective, and equally safe, way to kill a range of pests and insects including fleas and bed bugs.
DE is made up of tiny fossilized remains of diatoms (a form of algae). DE won’t kill fleas immediately, like the contact-killers, but its benefits far outweigh the expected wait time.
When crushed, Diatomaceous Earth powder has sharp edges (microscopic) that are safe for you and your pets but are fatal on pests like fleas. The razor-sharp edges in DE will break the fleas’ exoskeletons and kill it through dehydration.
In this post, you’ll learn how to safely use Diatomaceous Earth for fleas extermination. But you can click here to check out how to use DE.
What’s Diatomaceous Earth? How Does It Work?
Definition: Diatomaceous Earth is a soft (powdered) sedimentary rock, discovered by a farmer in the 1830s, that was originally thought to be limestone. DE is made up of fossil ‘diatoms’, which are simply hard-shelled algae from different water plants.
DE powder has tiny razor-sharp edges (if checked through a microscopic) that’ll quickly shred or break the fleas’ exoskeletons and its inner organs, which is definitely fatal.
Sidenote: These characteristics have afforded Diatomaceous Earth various applications in mild abrasion, mechanical insect repelling, and filtration (charcoal filters).
Also, if inhaled, the small razor-like diatoms in Diatomaceous Earth will damage the flea’s respiratory system and kill the bug. Fortunately, DE works through mechanical action and thus fleas won’t develop resistance like they do with chemical flea killers.
Also, DE will dehydrate and kill other insects such as fleas, aphids, lice, ticks, mites, roaches, ants, and bed bugs, and various garden pests. Diatomaceous Earth is suitable for controlling adult and larvae fleas in dry or indoor spaces like pet bedding or houses.
How Long Does the DE’s Action Last?
Fleas coming into contact with the Diatomaceous Earth powder will die within 4-12 hours – according to a report by the National Geographic.
But you’ll need to leave the DE powder on the surfaces (yard, floors or carpets) for 24 hours before you vacuum to make sure that the bugs have died.
Diatomaceous Earth will be effective against fleas for 3 weeks on your yard, provided it’s not wetted by rain or sprinkler water. Hence, reapply DE in 2-3 weeks since the fleas usually have an egg-laying cycle of about 1-3 weeks.
- Keep your Diatomaceous Earth powder dry, or it’ll lose its power. Thus, you must not expose the DE to rain or sprinkler water when flea treating your porches, gardens or yards.
- For wet grounds or in the rainy season, use flea sprays with pyrethroids like esfenvalerate and esfenvalerate or other IGR pyriproxifen.
Using Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas (Step By Step)
Only use “food-grade” Diatomaceous Earth since it has no added chemicals that would otherwise poison your kids and pets. DE used for charcoal filters or swimming pool has carcinogenic ingredients. But, many of the pest control DE options are crystalline in nature.
Step 1: ON PPEs – For safety purposes when applying the diatomaceous earth, put on your gardening gloves to avoid drying or dehydrating the skin. Wear a protective dust mask to prevent inhaling diatomaceous earth as this would damage your mucous membranes in the nose and mouth.
Step 2: Thoroughly Vacuum the carpet and your indoor spaces to be flea treated before you sprinkle the DE.
Step 3: To kill all the adult fleas, their eggs and flea larvae – allow the diatomaceous earth powder to sit on the indoor floors and carpets for a minimum of 3-4 days before you vacuum.
Step 4: Finally, reapply the diatomaceous earth powder each week for 1 month and ensure you vacuum only after 3-4 days.
Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth in Flea Control
The benefits of using Diatomaceous earth in flea control are:
(1) Reducing inflammation, enhancing the pet’s skeletal system, (1) Reducing or preventing the pest burden and enhancing the pet’s coat and skin.
Well, let’s discuss the benefits!
- Food grade or organic Diatomaceous earth in its powder form can be sprinkled onto your cat’s or dog’s coat/ fur to kill and prevent flea infestations. But, only apply the DE along the pet’s backbone while avoiding getting it into your cat’s or dog’s eyes.
- Besides working great on pets like cats and dogs, Diatomaceous earth can also control lice, mites, and fleas on livestock like sheep, cow, pigs, goats, and birds too.
- DE works through mechanical operation and thus flea and household pets can’t develop immunity against it as it happens with the chemical flea killers.
- Besides being an organic flea control solutions that both effective and safe for pets, Diatomaceous earth is also safe to humans and their kids.
- Luckily, you’ll easily find DE in most pest control outlets in your locality or on the big e-commerce websites online for quick delivery.
- As a side note, DE will also be great in de-worming or for human in preventing hip problems and other joint pains.
Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for My Family?
First, is Diatomaceous earth carcinogenicity? Well, NO! According to OSHA, Diatomaceous earth is classified like a Group 3 carcinogen and thus its no carcinogenicity to human beings.
But is DE really harmful to humans? Definitely not, if its food-grade DE. This kind of DE will have anything below 2% crystalline silica, which is considered safe for humans.
But, on the flip side, inhaling Diatomaceous earth for a long time will hurt the human lungs. Therefore, Food-grade DE will be safe for eating and cosmetic use hut will scar the human lungs if inhaled.
Therefore, can you use Diatomaceous earth to kill fleas in your indoor spaces? Yes, DE will be great to use indoors in killing fleas, ants, or roaches. However, it’s advisable not to sleep around the treated spaces as you might inhale the DE.
Diatomaceous Earth for fleas in Yards
For yard and other outdoor spaces, flea treatment efforts should essentially concentrate on areas where flea larvae are mainly found. The areas include shady places, under shrubbery or decks, cat/ dog bedding areas, and crawl spaces.
I was experiencing a problem with fleas in our garden. It seemed no matter my efforts, the fleas would still keep coming back. I had sprayed some over-the-counter solutions, and permethrin but I was playing a falling battle. Luckily, diatomaceous earth came into the picture to save my face against embarrassment from the fleas and ants.
So, use Diatomaceous earth to kill fleas in your deck and yard effectively. You’ll need to sprinkle the Diatomaceous earth powder on the yard and around the house, particularly in places where the cats and dogs stay mainly.
Caution: Diatomaceous earth will be less effective when wet – either due to rains or just yard irrigation and watering. Therefore, DE will be more active on concrete, gravel, or bare ground. Besides, you’ll need to reapply the Diatomaceous earth after watering the yard or following the rains.
- Simply sprinkle a handful of the Diatomaceous earth powder into the yard and let the dust drip into the flea infested places.
- Alternatively, you can use a dust spreader that will increase your efficiency and speed or applying the Diatomaceous earth.
- If the prevalent weather is dry (for the next ten days), you can mix the Diatomaceous earth with water – the DE mixture will change to powder within the next one week and kill the fleas.
DE, like any other dust, is poisonous if inhaled in large quantities. Also, DE’s sharp edges can harm the soft tissues in your lungs and throat. Therefore, use safety goggles and dust-filtering masks when handling or applying diatomaceous earth for fleas.
Despite that diatomaceous earth is not a quick-action flea solution, its highly effective on areas that are heavily infested by fleas and fleas larvae such as pet bedding and house.
How to locate the flea-infested yard areas
To quickly find the flea-infested areas in your yard, wear some knee-high and white socks and stand at one location in the backyard. If there are fleas in the areas you’re standing, you’ll see the Persky pests jumping onto your white socks.
However, mainly massive flea infestation will be concentrated on a few important areas as opposed to being in the whole yard. But yard areas that received a lot of foot traffic or extended direct sunlight won’t experience massive flea infestations.
On the contrary, secluded and shaded areas are more prone to massive flea infestations. For example, such fields include kennels, doghouses, and places that dogs or cats take a rest in your yard or garden.
Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas on Cats
As a natural and thus safe flea control solution, Diatomaceous earth (DE) is great for cats. Therefore, follow the below-outlined steps to control fleas in cats using Diatomaceous earth.
1. Check The Flea-prone areas
First, you’ll need to identify the areas in your house and backyard that are highly prone to flea infestation – particularly places where the cat tends to spend a lot of its time.
Suspect areas include their loved rug or pillow, the cat tree, kennel, or bed. Therefore, pay special attention to the outlined regions when you’re applying the diatomaceous earth.
2. Vacuum Cat’s sleeping areas
Next up, clean and vacuum the cat’s sleeping things and places such as the pillow, rugs. and kennel – particularly areas where the cats mainly rest. I recommend you use a shop vac as opposed to the regular vacuum, as the later would burn its motor since DE will be hard on it.
Vacuuming will assist in gathering all the fleas eggs that could be dropped in the areas. This is particularly helpful as it’ll remove the flea eggs that the diatomaceous earth can’t kill until the time they become a flea larva that has a relatively soft exoskeleton.
3. Pour the Diatomaceous Earth
Next up, its time that you now pour the diatomaceous earth on the cat’s resting places. I would suggest you use DE spreaders, a tied-off sock, or a sieve. The areas to concentrate on include the cat bedding.
However, ensure that you apply the diatomaceous earth only on the relatively dry areas as it’ll ensure that the powder is more effective against fleas attacking your act. Also, allow the DE to settle on the application area for about 14 days.
4. Flea Comb your cat
Sadly so, some fleas might survive the above harsh treatment. Therefore, you’ll require to flea comb your cat, which will guarantee that any remaining fleas are exposed and you can now kill them using a spray or shampoo.
Ensure that the fleas you get off the cat fur won’t escape. Also, repeat the flea combing process a couple of times in a week. To clean up this diatomaceous earth, use the shop vac, some wet towels, and filterless vacuums.
Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas on Dogs
You can use Diatomaceous earth (DE) to prevent or control the number of fleas that could be biting your dog. Luckily, as noted above, DE is both safe and effective against fleas to use on your lovely dog. Check the flea control steps you can take on your dog using Diatomaceous earth.
1. Consider areas where your Dog rests
First things first, you’ll need to consider the places where your dog will spend its time in the house or even in the yard.
Just like for cats, dogs will spend their time in places such as rug, pillow, kennel, or beds. Therefore, you’ll have known the places you’ll concentrate your application of diatomaceous earth.
2. Vacuum the Dog’s sleeping areas
Next, vacuum the dog’s sleeping and resting area, the pillow, rug, and kennels. The process will allow you to gather all the flea eggs that are scattered around these areas.
This is because diatomaceous earth won’t readily kill the flea eggs as compared to the larvae and adult flea stages as it has a protective cover.
3. Sprinkle the Diatomaceous Earth
Now, onto the main process using our diatomaceous earth. Just like when we were considering cats above, you may use a DE applicator, tied-off sock or a simple sieve to spread the diatomaceous earth on the identified places.
The places to concentrate on are blankets or pet beds – but this must be done with the powder in its dry form to achieve the highest level of effectiveness.
Finally, allow the Diatomaceous Earth powder to stand on the sprinkled areas for about 2-3 weeks to kill all the adult fleas and their larvae.
4. Flea Shampoo your Dog
Allow the dog to play around the areas sprinkled with the diatomaceous earth. This allows any remaining fleas and their larvae to jump on the dog as they seek for more blood to survive and reproduce.
Now, use a suitable dog flea shampoo, bathe the dog clean to remove and kill all the bugging fleas on the pet. In addition, you can use the moisturizing shampoo or the soap-free to rejuvenate the pet’s skin. This is important because diatomaceous earth will tend to dry the dog’s skin.
Finally, you should flea comb your dog to ensure that you eject any of the remaining fleas on the pet’s fur. Also, ensure you vacuum the house spaces clean in a number of weeks. For this process, use the shop vac type of vacuum cleaner because it won’t burn its motor easily.
- Diatomaceous earth | Dr Cindy Lizotte, Elmwood Veterinary Hospital
- Effect of diatomaceous earth on parasite load, egg production – NCBI